‘Shark Tank’ for kids, progressive Jewish group forming

Angela Sandler, Maxine Clark, Kara Newmark and Talia Goldfarb

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Angela Sandler, CEO and co-founder of xplor, Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Kara Newmark, owner of Sweetology and Talia Goldfarb, founder of Myself Belts. 


Full STEAM ahead

Who says a 5 year old is too young to create his or her own company?

Not the folks behind the inaugural Kidzpreneur competition, which takes place Saturday, April 13, at the Danforth Plant Science Building, 975 N. Warson Road. Kidzpreneur, a St. Louis-based entrepreneurial competition that is free to enter, offers youngsters ages 5-13 the opportunity to pitch their best business or product ideas for a chance to win cash scholarships and prizes (think TV’s “Shark Tank” for kids). 

“We mentor a lot of local high school students and have learned that schools have a hard time recruiting that age of kids for their entrepreneur programs,” said Angela Sandler, CEO and co-founder of xplor, which partnered with St. Louis Magazine’s St. Louis Family to launch Kidzpreneur. “We wanted to create a platform for younger children to express their ideas and also give them opportunities for mentorships and scholarships to help those ideas become a reality.”

A pre-competition, “Mentor Day” will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 6 at the Danforth building. At that time, youngsters and their families can attend mentoring workshops with prominent local business leaders including Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop; Kara Newmark, owner of Sweetology; and Talia Goldfarb, founder of Myself Belts and a former “Shark Tank” winner. One-on-one mentorship opportunities also will be available.

The following Saturday, April 13, the actual competition kicks off at 8:30 a.m., with breakfast and an hour-long mentoring session, followed by two rounds of competition. First, participants will compete in one of three groups, depending on their age, in a “speed round,” pitching their business idea in three minutes to a panel of judges, including local business owners and mentors. The top three winners from each age group will move on to the final round where they have an opportunity to win scholarships and other prizes donated by area businesses.

In addition to the competition, Sandler says the family-friendly event will include STEM/STEAM activities, food trucks, a vendor village and a concluding party to celebrate the competitors’ accomplishments. 

“This is not a competition where we’re asking kids to come in with a website and finished product,” said Sandler, who is a member of Temple Israel. “We’re looking for them to come in with a good idea. We want to give them the opportunity and the platform to speak in front of adults and explore their business ideas. I hope everyone walks away inspired that the next generation of kids has great ideas and the confidence to pursue them.”

She said some of the kids who have already registered have ideas for apps that focus on positive ways to use social media, as well as new clothing brands, video editing and creating different YouTube stations. 

“Everyone is welcome to come,” said Sandler. “We’re viewing it as a community-wide day. There will be free babysitting available and all kinds of ways for children and their families to learn about innovation and starting their own business.”

For more information and to register as a Kidzpreneur participant, visit http://bit.ly/Kidzpreneur. Participants will be asked to fill out a few questions, including the name of the idea or company, what problem it may solve, whether it is a product or service and how much it costs to make.

Progressive STL Jews unite

A new St. Louis Jewish multigenerational group is forming called Progressive Jews of St. Louis, or ProJo, for short.

Hannah Rosenthal, 26, a native St. Louisan, explained that she and other like-minded local Jews of all ages are “convening a community meeting to get a sense of the priorities of the progressive Jewish community in St. Louis and see where we go from there.”

“We want to build a leadership team and a broader group that is really representative of the progressive Jewish community as a whole in St. Louis,” said Rosenthal. “Whatever shape and form that takes should be guided by the community.”

Rosenthal says an ad-hoc ProJo steering committee came up with three belief statements, which she outlined as the following:

• We are dedicated to engaging and educating the St. Louis Jewish community and broader St. Louis community about anti-Semitism and racism;

• We believe it is the responsibility of progressive Jews to speak out against Israeli occupation;

• And we are committed to differentiating between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel.

Rosenthal, a Princeton graduate who grew up in Olivette involved in several Jewish programs and summer camps, is now attending the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. She says when she moved back here last fall, she found it frustrating that there was not “an active, organized space where I could be my full Jewish self.” She adds that part of what ProJo hopes to do is strengthen and build the community so that progressive St. Louis Jews can feel more of a sense of belonging.

She and others on the ProJo steering committee are inviting the community to MaTovu, 4200 Blaine Ave., in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 7 to find out more about the new group. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/ProJoSTL.

Mitzvah for the mikvah

In last week’s N&S, I mentioned the April 1 opening of Café Coeur, a new full-service kosher restaurant in Creve Coeur. Those wanting to check it out and sample its kosher sushi, signature pizzas, Italian and seafood specialties, cocktails and more can do so from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 31, when the restaurant, at 10477 Old Olive Street Road, hosts a fundraiser for the renovation of the St. Louis mikvah, or ritual bath. A portion of the proceeds for the $180 per person evening will go to the mikvah renovation. Seating is limited. To reserve a spot, go to https://www.duvys.com/simple/stlouismikvah.

News and Schmooze is a weekly column by Editor Ellen Futterman. Email Ellen at: efutterman@thejewishlight.com